Via USA Rugby’s monthly e-mail newsletter (a good PR tool by the way!) … five myths about women’s rugby as a NCAA sport.
“The culture of rugby will no longer be fun and the NCAA makes too many rules.”
While NCAA’s structure is most certainly accompanied by an array of by-laws and policies, the idea that the “fun” will be removed from the sport due to newfound adherence to these policies is unfounded. You will find within the current student-athlete population, the structure and basis of the rules has provided quite the opposite with many examples.
If you are a fan of the Men’s and Women’s Basketball NCAA Final Four, these studentathletes can certainly testify that the NCAA has added to the experience of the sport, rather than minimized. Structure and policy is a positive concept to the intercollegiate athlete that provides a sound foundation for a high level of athletic and academic achievement. If club rugby is insistent that “rugby culture” will be diluted from membership in the NCAA, the solution is to look at a sport such as ice hockey. This sport has its own reputation and culture but is still in inclusion in intercollegiate athletics while maintaining this culture at the varsity level.
“Rugby is a traditional, social sport that cannot be changed without affecting the sport”
While much of the tradition in the sport as a whole has included the social image and rough-nature, intercollegiate status projects a more positive image that many club programs already adhere to.
Competitive play at NCAA level can assist in the steps to presenting a positive image in the eyes of the public.
“Varsity rugby takes away club opportunities and if implemented will erase club rugby entirely”
This myth is popular and very prevalent but far from correct. The concept of club sports was around long before the structure of varsity was in existence. As you may know, the powerhouse intercollegiate athletics including football dates back to club participation up RC until 1906 when the NCAA was founded. Club sports such as tennis, soccer, softball, basketball, cannot be erased from the system and rugby is no different. The creation of women’s varsity rugby is not taking away, yet adding another option or additional opportunity in the sport.
“Varsity student-athletes cannot participate on the Women’s National Team”
The USA Rugby Women’s National Team coaches, players and administration recognize that varsity athletics can be a positive addition to any National Team. NCAA eligibility Rules do not prevent participation on most sporting bodies’ National Teams, but USA Rugby may need to provide alternative pathways for varsity student-athletes to be considered for the National Team that will not violate NCAA student-athlete eligibility.
You will find that the USA’s most well-known women’s national teams — Soccer WNT and Softball WNT — consist entirely of former or current NCAA athletes, so it is clear that other sports follow the model of varsity athletics to dominance on the world stage!
“If we become varsity we won’t be able to participate in the national championship”
This decision is strictly decided by the individual institution and its internal athletic departmental policy. Regular season mixed schedules of club and varsity is a must during the early stages of development as new teams are added. In order to expand the credibility of women’s varsity rugby at the NCAA level, the initiative works toward achieving an all-varsity championship. This in turn, has no effect on the existence of the club national championship.
In order to reach a true intercollegiate championship of NCAA status and fully be recognized with this status, women’s rugby must achieve membership of 40 teams.
I have heard a lot of this, both from college teams (like my own alma mater) that are just trying to be taken more seriously and teams that are trying to become varsity.
The myths concerning our “rugby culture” are such a thorn, aren’t they? It’s a nice way of saying that if college women’s team go varsity, they can’t party anymore. It’s such a fine line, between working hard and being more competitive, yet wanting to retain all of the social trappings that get passed on through teams.
All I know is that when I learned to play rugby, we partied our asses off but we didn’t win many games. In fact, I didn’t even know what select-side was until I was a senior in college. Granted, some of this is due to being old enough to remember when you just played whoever you felt like playing, not conferences and qualifying, etc. But I also know that when you take yourself more seriously, there are more gratifying experiences to remember than how many beers you drank at the third-half last weekend.
ADDED: Via the comments, here are the posts related to rugby as an NCAA sport with lots of solid discussion.